Maintenance of communication in primary classrooms : some evidence for the role of elicitation and code-switching in English medium schools in Kenya, with implications for teaching
This is a study of specific aspects of classroom interaction primary school level in Kenya. The study entailed the identification of the sources of particular communication problems during the change-over period from Kiswahili to English medium teaching in two primary schools. There was subsequently an examination of the language resources which were employed by teachers to maintain pupil participation in communication in the light of the occurrence of possibility of occurrence of specific communication problems. The language resources which were found to be significant in this regard concerned firstly the use of different elicitation types by teachers to stimulate pupils into giving responses and secondly teachers' recourse to code-switching from English to Kiswahili and vice-versa. It was also found in this study that although the use of English as the medium of instruction in the classrooms which were observed resulted in certain communication problems, some of these problems need not have arisen if teachers had been more careful in their use of language. The consideration of this finding, after taking into account the role of different elicitation types and code-switching as interpretable from data samples had certain implications which are specified in the study for teaching in Kenyan primary schools. The corpus for the study consisted of audio-recordings of English, Science and Number-Work lessons which were later transcribed. Relevant data samples were subsequently extracted from transcripts for analysis. Many of the samples have examples of cases of communication breakdowns, but they also illustrate how teachers maintained interaction with pupils who had yet to acquire an operational mastery of English. This study thus differs from most studies on classroom interaction because of its basic concern with the examination of the resources available to teachers for overcoming the problem areas of classroom communication.